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Improv 21: Vinny Golia: The Large Ensemble Experience

Published March 18, 2009

Derk Richardson interviews composer, improviser, and multi-wind instrumentalist Vinny Golia, recorded at the Red Poppy Art House, in San Francisco on March 18 2009, as part of the ROVA:Arts Improv 21 series of informances. Originally a visual artist, Golia has brought his skills at pictorial composition to his ensemble pieces. A self taught musician, Golia considers his role as an outsider has enabled him to work with radical avant-garde musicians, members of the primarily African American free-jazz school, as well as the traditional jazz and chamber orchestra communities, without the barriers to innovation that may derive from being classically trained. His approach to musical composition has remained playful, an example of which was given when a fellow composer suggested he have his trombonists play different part, he refused, because he simply enjoyed seeing their arms move in tandem. Golia describes how once he formed his large ensemble, which included many of his Cal Arts students, as well as more established musicians, he realized he needed to write music that would be interesting for his varied but talented ensemble to play, and soon reached outside traditional jazz music to bring in elements of chamber music. He also comments on the importance of having skilled improvisers in his group, as many of his compositions combine composed elements, free improv, and guided improv with the use of hand gestures and often a conductor. Golia also decries the decline in the number of available of large musical venues for his type of performance, and the desire to have his works to be heard without interruption. Golia also describes his many collaborations with dancers and filmmakers, the importance of knowing the history of avant-garde music and art, and the blessings of teaching at Cal Arts where he able to interact daily with a wide assortment of artist, musician, and thinkers.

This is raw unedited footage.

For more detailed program information and to browse other material in the Other Minds Archive visit:

Run time 94 min
Producer ROVA:Arts
Audio/Visual sound, color
Language English


Derk Richardson, moderator


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on 11/11/2011